4 Rules for Localizing Mobile Apps

mobile apps dynamic languageThe mobile app market is growing rapidly all over the world; research from early 2015 shows that there are now over 3.6 billion mobile users worldwide. For this reason, mobile app localization is valuable to those who want to ensure their global reach is not limited by language or culture. Here are some things to keep in mind during your mobile application localization process.

1. Prepare for Text Expansion

While text size matters on any type of screen, it’s especially critical to plan for text expansion as you develop your mobile application in other languages. Without proper adjustment to text fields, the corresponding translated content may not fit on mobile devices, given their smaller screens with limited space for text and images. Your localization provider can make adjustments to sentences or words that have fit issues (such as abbreviation and word choice), but it’s best to plan for this at the outset.

2. Match your Tone to the Audience and Market

The tone and voice of your mobile app’s text depends on your target audience, as well as the type of app you are releasing. For example, think about the tone you would use for an app that helps people find a good restaurant, compared to the tone in an app that provides physicians with detailed medical information. Tone and style must be taken into account throughout the entire app localization process, starting with development of the English source code.

Additionally, many mobile apps are customizable for the individual user. For instance, you can enter your personal information so that any automated text adapts to your gender. Be aware that in many languages, translations vary depending on the gender of the noun, adjective or even verb. Make sure to collaborate with your app developers to implement specific coding accommodations for these variables.

3. Thoroughly Test your Mobile App

It’s important to test all components of your mobile application, since bugs or errors will be frustrating and obvious to mobile users who are out and about and can’t find a quick solution. If there are any problems related to your app’s usability because of language, it will disgruntle users and they could lose confidence in your brand. You may even earn a poor reputation if you don’t take testing and cultural consultation seriously. That’s why you’ll need to perform linguistic testing with target users before the release of any multilingual app.

4. Don’t Forget Layouts and Colors

Believe it or not, your mobile application’s visual layout and color combinations deserve distinct attention during localization. Most cultures have particular color preferences and sensitivities, and some layouts are simply not ideal for reading on a mobile screen. For example, make sure to anticipate the challenges of creating layout for right to left languages (or with bidirectional text), such as Arabic, Hebrew or Urdu.

These four mobile app localization practices will set you on the path to reach new countries and cultures. Consider collaborating with a team of experts to successfully localize your mobile apps for an international market.



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